ROME – Pope Benedict XVI has brought stuffed animals, books and candy to children with spina bifida who are being treated at a Rome hospital.

Benedict brought the gifts to mark Epiphany, when Catholics believe the three kings brought gifts to the newborn Jesus. Benedict told the children and their families that he wanted to be like the kings and give the children gifts to show his love and affection.

The children, many in wheelchairs, gave Benedict little statues of the three kings and some drawings they'd made. He marveled at the artwork, kissed the children and blessed the babies who were brought to him.

The visit took place Wednesday at Rome's Gemelli hospital, which has a pediatric center for spina bifida, the spinal birth defect.